Sony: We Are Totally Open For Crossplay, Game Developers: No, You Totally Are Not

from the cross-purposes dept

It’s a really dumb saga that has gone on for far too long, but Sony has built for itself a public history of not allowing gamers to cross-play multiplayer games on their Playstations with players on other consoles. This is all an attempt to get Playstation owners to convince their friends to also buy Playstations so that they can game together, which is exactly the kind of protectionist hardball that makes Sony, you know, Sony. The backlash against Sony last summer was bad enough that Microsoft and Nintendo, rivals in the console space, decided to put out joint advertisements together along with a social media campaign essentially trolling Sony over the issue, while pointing out to gamers worldwide that owners of Nintendo and Xbox consoles very much could play with one another.

In one of the all-time underwhelming responses to a PR crisis in the history of gaming, Sony did enable crossplay… for exactly two games. Fortnite and Rocket League have crossplay enabled, but literally nothing else. Which made it somewhat baffling that the Chairman of Sony Interactive managed to claim in a recent interview that the lack of crossplay at this point was all the developers’ fault.

“People keep saying, ‘Why doesn’t Sony allow more people to have it,’” Sony’s Shawn Layden told Game Informer. “All it takes is for publishers and developers who wish to permission it. As ever, just work with your PlayStation account manager, and they will walk you through the steps that we’ve learned through our partnership with Epic on how this works. I don’t believe right now there is any gating factor on that. I think they’re open to make proposals, because the Fortnite thing worked pretty well.”

It’s a striking claim in many ways. First, the inclusion of a phrase like “as ever” must surely be infuriating to any developer or gamer who knows the history of crossplay on Sony’s hardware. It’s not “as ever.” At best, it’s “as very, very recently.” Second, the claim makes no sense. Developers and publishers across the spectrum have managed to get crossplay enabled on Xbox and Nintendo hardware, but the claim is that they’ve just been too lazy to do so with Sony? All while they’re screaming that they want their games to be crossplay enabled? Come on.

And it’s not just me saying so. Layden’s comments were met with immediate backlash from developers.

Finn Brice, the CEO of Chucklefish, which developed and published the recent Advance Wars-inspired hit Wargroove, took issue with Layden’s characterization in a thread about the interview on the gaming forum ResetEra.

“We made many requests for crossplay (both through our account manager and directly with higher ups) all the way up until release month,” Brice wrote. “We were told in no uncertain terms that it was not going to happen.”

Wargroove is currently available, with cross-play, on Switch, Xbox One, and PC. The game is slated to launch later this year on PlayStation 4. Brice added that while it might be more complicated from a policy standpoint on PlayStation’s part, for Chucklefish, implementing cross-play is as easy as flipping a switch, something people have speculated about ever since Fortnite maker Epic Games accidentally enabled cross-play between Xbox One and PS4 back in September of 2017.

In other words, Sony is Sonying all over this. Why in the world this kind of comment should be thought to do anything other than anger both gamers and game developers alike is beyond me. Blame developers for your own protectionist behavior that refuses what your own customers want? That’s ballsy, even for Sony.

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Companies: sony

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Comments on “Sony: We Are Totally Open For Crossplay, Game Developers: No, You Totally Are Not”

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Actually, it’s just that the console and PC markets are different enough that Sony don’t feel that they’d be losing anything to a competitor by allowing that. Plus, the nature of MMOs means that the console ecosystem alone might have been riskier than allowing crossplay in that instance. They obviously think differently when dealing with other consoles.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Last Gen

Completely different scenarios. In the OtherOS debacle, Sony were removing features from products already purchased. Whereas, crossplay is a feature meant to entice people to buy new products. Plus there’s a huge difference between a niche console feature and a feature currently being used in some of the biggest titles on the planet.

Once crossplay is established as an expected feature, it’s unlikely that it will be removed as that just hands ammunition to competitors. Plus, Microsoft is actually embracing cross platform play in a big way (they recently announced XBox Live to be launched on Switch, iOS & Android) so the only thing they could possibly achieve by removing it is to hand marketshare back to Sony.

Never say never, of course, but I’d say it’s as unlikely as them removing the achievement system at this point.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

No, developers won’t decide to boycott a large proportion of their market because they disagree with a small aspect of how that marketplace is designed. Especially since all of their competitors who don’t consider crossplay to be important will remain in their spot.

But, nice of you to shift blame on to them rather than holding Sony accountable for its own decisions.

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